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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Charleston SC stairway
Pincushion flower
Doris High

(Note: Due to the note a reader shared with us today's message is longer than usual.  Also since we had a number of technical difficulties (including a program completely crashing when I was about done!) and a splitting headache the message is posted much later than usual today. Due to early meetings tomorrow we do not anticipate getting a separate daily encouragement message out for Thursday, July 10.)

ListenListen to us share this message on your audio player.

"His Invisible Hand"

"God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance" (Genesis 45:7).

In the course of trusting God we experience those times when we just aren't sure what the Lord is doing in regard to His leading, let alone how it will work out in the end. One benefit I have noticed in regard to growing older is that the disappointments that might have been devastating to me as a youth I now see more as stepping stones toward the overall plan God has for my Christian life.

Among the forms of ministry I have been involved in over the past few years is that of an "interim pastor."  An interim pastor serves in a modified pastoral role for a short period of time while the church searches for a new long-term pastor.  We have made many new friends in this role and have been greatly blessed as we also sought to be a blessing.

This spring two separate prospective interim roles we were excited about did not materialize.  However we met some very nice folks at these churches and were able to share our daily encouragement ministry with them.  We are increasingly amazed at the networking aspect of this ministry.  On numerous occasions we have referred to someone only to find out they were known by another reader who had lost touch.  A note we recently received from Deb bears this out.  Here is an edited version of her note which she gave us permission to share:

Ed BerkeyI had the privilege of meeting you both back in March at our church. I signed up for your Daily Encouragement and have been very blessed by them. With my work schedule I had gotten behind in reading them but today I sat down and started to check them out. It was with great joy that I read the message for Monday, June 23rd. You see I was raised in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania where Pastor Edward Berkey started the church. He and his precious wife were a big part of my growing up years. I had the opportunity to know God at an early age under Pastor Berkey's ministry.

They left the church when I was 15 years old and did not return until 20 years later. At that point I was not serving the Lord but wanted to go to the services just to see them. I have loved these people all my life. On the third night of the revival services I went forward to rededicate my life to the Lord. 

They returned to the New England area but then retired and I lost touch. My parents, who were saved under Pastor Berkey's ministry only knew that they were in the Florida area. It was great that you included a picture of them. I had to look twice to make sure it was the Berkeys since many years have passed, but as I read the caption under the picture I knew it was them. God has been so faithful to me and my family over the years. We had a great start and were given the foundation to grow in the Lord.

Divine Providence is a theological term used to describe the sovereignty of God over events in people's lives and throughout history.  "We may make our plans, but God has the final say" is a Proverb Brooksyne quotes often.  Planning and strategizing short and long term goals is an important part of life, but it is especially reassuring that God's sovereign hand overrules our limited knowledge, as we trust our lives to His care. He brings to pass that which He has planned for us even though it might not be the way we had expected  or in the time frame we had in mind.

Joseph and brothersToday's Scripture relates to the moment when Joseph is reuniting with his jealous brothers.  Twenty years earlier they sought to kill him and, as a concession, sold him into slavery at the tender age of 17.  Joseph had numerous ups and downs in his Egypt experience.

Twice Joseph makes a great faith statement regarding God's leading with these words, "God sent me before you" (45:5&7). 

What an astounding acknowledgement of the invisible hand of God!  Joseph had lost his favored position and his treasured possession, the coat of many colors.  He was separated from his father who presumed he was dead.  His own brothers dropped him in a pit and sold him into Egyptian slavery. 

In Egypt when things started to look up he was lied about and wrongly accused.  He spent years in prison, forgotten, even after he was called upon to interpret a remarkable dream. But he kept his faith.  Joseph experienced the emotional pinnacle that theologian R.C. Sproul refers to as the place "where the rubber of human anguish meets the road of divine providence."

In time he was released and arose to the second highest position in Egypt. About twenty two years later his brothers traveled to Egypt in search of food due to a severe famine and now they stood in terror before him.  He was in a position to get even and they expected revenge.

But Joseph demonstrates a remarkable evidence of God's work in His life.  He recognized God had a purpose and was providentially leading, even through the worst sort of circumstances. 

He recognized that it was ultimately not the vicious act of his resentful brothers nor the Ishmaelite slave traders that got him to Egypt.  It was God.  "God sent me ahead of you", Joseph asserted in his powerful statement of  faith.

Are you walking in God's ways today?  Are you seeking God's direction about a matter? Is He taking you though a major transition? Remember that God has an overall plan as He guides you with His invisible hand.

When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply.
The flames shall not hurt you; I only design
Your dross* to consume and your gold to refine.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer:  Father, we're reminded today that nothing happens to Your children apart from Your sovereign will.  Since You use both good and evil to accomplish Your purpose in our lives we need not fear what others may say or do to us.  Your Spirit abides with us helping us to trust You no matter the present or future.  Our lives are in Your loving hands.  Amen.

*Dross - the waste or scum formed on molten metals, usually caused by oxidation.

Here's the message Deb was referring to when she sent us the note in today's message.

A challenging puzzle - Yesterday we shared a word search puzzle and many of you checked it out and several responded with completed puzzles.  The answer key is at the very bottom of the quiz page. Merely scroll down to examine the key and check your answers.

Suggested Resources:

The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good?
The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good?  By R.C. Sproul / P & R Publishing  -  In a world steeped in anguish and evil, how can God be in control? Do all things really work for good? With head-on honesty and biblical insight, Sproul examines the difficult doctrine of divine providence. Discover how your Lord lovingly guides the events of your life without creating human wickedness or destroying human freedom. Ordering information. Of course today's message title was prompted by this book title!

JosephJoseph  By Charles Swindoll / Thomas Nelson - Every day it seems another so-called "hero" falls from grace, but in his Great Lives from God's Word series, Chuck Swindoll introduces you to heroes who stand the test of time. In his third volume, Joseph, Swindoll challenges Christians to aspire to the virtues of obedience, mercy, and courage---all of which characterized the life of this richly blessed child of God. Click here for more information or to order through CBD.  Brooksyne's Note:  When I have gone through hard times this book has offered great encouragement and understanding of how God works good even in the midst of those who intend harm; at times this might include our own brothers and sisters in the faith who see things differently than we do. This can lead to some very ungodly actions which can really break your heart.   I like to read the Scripture right alongside the book and find hidden insights that God, along with the gifted writer, Swindoll impress upon my heart. God can pour the salve of His Holy Spirit in your wounded spirit as you study and apply His Scripture.

Today's Suggested Mu
sic and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to play in your audio player)

"Trust His Heart"

"My Tribute" 

Cerwin and Doris High

Cerwin and Doris High are friends of ours from here in Lancaster County. Doris took today's close-up photo of the
Pincushion flower.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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